The Able Disabled
The Able Disabled6 mins 228 6 mins 228
Masons have become so scarce; Mr Mishra mumbled. And he again corrected himself, -they are plenty in number now a days. One who was a sub assistant labourer yesterday, became a full-fledged head now, only after a year. He formed his own troop just like Abani. Mr Mishra thought while proceeding to Abani’s house.
This Abani took charge of Hrishi uncle’s building as his first head mason responsibility. Hrishi uncle was impressed by his punctuality and sincerity when the ground floor was built. At that time he was second to the team leader who never actually came to the construction site unless called for. Abani did the job without fail.
Things changed soon. Abani took disproportionate amount of advance. Then he played hide and seek. He was seen at many number of construction sites. His income increased and living style changed. He sent his children to schools having AC buses.
There were several rounds of discussion with Abani, leading to quarrel that did not help Hrishi uncle to get back his money. To add to his worries no other group liked to finish the half done work out of fellow feeling.
From this semi-urban area nearer to Madhubana, Abani shifted his family to the posh area of the city. He stayed here with his younger brother Abol, a blind man.
So what if he was blind, he hiked his self esteem once he stopped begging. Why should he beg when Abani was there? Under the free housing scheme of government, 'Indira Away Yojana' his brother constructed the small but planned house for him. They stayed together.
When he was a humble beggar in the near past, all looked upon him with sympathy and love. Who should not love him, who played his flute with such flowing devotion that even Krisna would love to listen with attention?
That was not the only good quality in him. He cooked wonderful dishes that the able eyed would be envious to taste. Anything really became delicious, if he cooked it. He was guided by aroma of the preparation.
His original living house a small hut was now completely ruined.
It was a mutual help for both brothers. One constructed the govt funded house and other brother stopped begging. One earned money and the physically challenged did the household works. For public eye they became example of ideal brothers.
Abol never was inspired to tie the nuptial knot; Abani did not press for it. When Abani went to the town to spend time with children and his wife Sumi, the later always sent some pleasantry for Abol.
Aha, how nice! Rama and Laxman, told Mr Mishra’s mother. Mishra was happy on everything about them, except one. That he stopped playing the flute. Now it was just a piece of bamboo for him. It was doubtful to say, if anytime Abol craved for his melodious music.
He earlier played this with a seasoned musician's fineness, for long sessions. Was it possible without any inspiration? A far inferior music was enough to fetch alms. Mr Mishra confused about the contradiction.
Mr Mishra knew it. Once in the past he asked Abol to play the flute at least on the day of Holi in the Lord Gopinath temple which he used to do for many years. The suggestion irritated him. He not only had lost this divine art but also his humility so precious.
He replied; flute for him was a remembrance of begging and the offence and humiliation it brought to him.
Oh yes Mr Mishra was forgetting his original job that had brought him to the house of the brothers.
Abani had promised to return the amount of money that he agreed to return to Hrishi uncle. Uncle for some medical reasons was absent on the day. He delegated the job to Mr Mishra, with the knowledge of Abani. He agreed, there was no confusion about the amount and date of return. When Abani did not come to uncle’s house, as per their discussion, Mr Mishra had to go there anxiously.
After waiting long, it was early in the evening when Mr Mishra finally dropped his hesitancy to proceed.
Abani luckily was available at home. He rather was available in whole that the smell was speaking about. It seemed he was under the spell of alcohol and Abol was giving him company only. The smell mixed to the aroma of chicken or mutton fry, prepared by the able disabled. The scene was very repellent for the young vegetarian Brahmin Mr Mishra. He gathered motivation and courage to remind Abani about his promise.
The conversation turned confrontational in a very short span. Mr Mishra was not sure why did Abani become so irritated so soon. He could have denied and stopped fighting. Was he a nuisance to the two brothers’ good time? The language became too filthy that even elders and most wicked men feared to address the honourable Mishras of Madhuban. He was taken aback and found lacking to come to the composure to retaliate. He ultimately had to do so. If the elder one was violent with volleys of his shouts under the influence of alcohol, the disabled suddenly came out with a stout cane; his walking stick of begging days.
He had no flute sure but this companion he still kept at reach.
Mr Mishra could never think of the chance of being harmed by this man, for whom the world was dark. He could not move or defend himself. His left shoulder got bruised with the hard impact. He looked at Abol, surprised.
Was he the same person to whom one and all were merciful and had regards as an artist? Mr Mishra always loved him and paid more than his due as alms. He forgot to react to the pain of the impact proper. He got a greater blow inside his mind. He could see the satisfaction on Abol’s different looking face. It was a sight of his lifetime. The lost sight of Abol missed to see his raged face as if in flame. Mr Mishra did not move an inch; he did not curse him as was the usual practice of a peace loving Brahmin. Real or dream! Instantly it came as a flash to his memory the sweetest possible play of flute, that made the Lord Gopintha’s temple vibrate as it echoed. The Lord, to devotee’s eye, looked enjoying rather ready to dance with it. He stood still as Abol attacked him for the second time with so perfect approximation of his position. His left hand was raised for defence this time as a reflex. The blow was too heavy to cause a fracture injury of the forearm.
It was a discussion in the whole of Madhuban. Nobody could pursue Mr Misra the young man to lodge a complaint against Abol. He never could believe it happened even if he had to put his forearm in a plaster cast for six weeks. He even told his uncle not to press for return of money. Why did he behave so that nobody could understand and can never do so in future? He himself never understood the able blow of the disabled!